What does my spine have to do with high blood pressure? And how will a chiropractic adjustment have any effect on blood pressure?
It is well known that achievement of blood pressure (BP) goals in the majority of hypertensive patients requires TWO OR MORE antihypertensive drugs. As more and more of the population begins searching for holistic and natural alternatives, people want to know what other options they have. Specific chiropractic care might be the answer they are looking for.
In March of 2007, a study was published in the Journal of Hypertension and referenced on WebMD. The study was able to conclude that precise chiropractic adjustments to the top bone in the neck are a safe and natural way to lower blood pressure significantly. “This procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood-pressure medications given in combination," study leader George Bakris, MD, tells WebMD. "And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems," adds Bakris, director of the University of Chicago hypertension center.
Eight weeks after receiving specific chiropractic adjustments, 25 patients with early-stage high blood pressure had significantly lower blood pressure than 25 similar patients who received a placebo chiropractic adjustment (doctor set up on the patient, but did not deliver any thrust). None of the patients took any blood pressure medication during the study.
Compared to the placebo-treated patients, those who got the real adjustments saw an average 14 mm Hg greater drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure count), and an average 8 mm Hg greater drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom blood pressure number).
So how exactly does this happen? Well, there are 2 ways chiropractic can help.
Injury or misalignment to the atlas vertebra (top bone in neck) has been researched to affect blood flow in the arteries around the base of the skull. Misalignment can cause constriction and increased BP. Correcting the misalignment can restore normal arterial function.
The second way has to do with our body’s nervous system. Spinal misalignment causes increased sympathetic tone and increased stress hormones, both of which have been shown to be an attributing factor to high blood pressure. Spinal adjustments to specific levels of the spine have been documented to have a positive effect on brain chemistry by decreasing sympathetic tone and lowering stress hormones in our body. Of course, lowering our body’s stress response can help lower our blood pressure.
So if you suffer from chronic high BP, get your spine checked! If it’s being caused by spinal misalignment, chiropractic can help!
“Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients” Journal of Human Hypertension (2007) 21, 347– 352.